‘Dudes Greeting Dudes’ sheds light on the double-standard of catcalling

You've seen the criticism of the catcalling video. Here's the response to that criticism.

 

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

IRL

Published Nov 3, 2014   Updated May 30, 2021, 7:06 am CDT

Hollaback’s viral catcalling video has inspired a wide variety of responses over the past few days, from solidarity and praise to accusations of racist editing.

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The video shows a woman walking silently through Manhattan for ten hours and collecting over a hundred instances of harassment from men on the street. Some viewers, however, didn’t interpret all of the catcalls as harassment. Why? Because in some cases, the guys were literally “just saying hi.”

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For women who feel intimidated by this kind of supposedly casual greeting, it can sometimes be difficult to explain why the behavior is unacceptable. Sure, it’s unwanted attention, but it’s hardly the same as a wolf-whistle or a man making a sexually explicit remark. Right? Well, not quite. One of the simplest ways to puncture this argument is to ask if the same man would “say hi” in the same way to another man on the street. If the man in question just wanted to start a friendly conversation, one would expect about 50 percent of his greetings to be directed at other men.

Blogger and comedian Elon James White made this point while tweeting about the video on Sunday night.

“I’m just saying. I’m a nice guy. I just want to say HI. And you’re going to accept this greeting whether you fucking like it or not.”

— Elon James White (@elonjames) November 2, 2014

Dudes. If you feel society has lost it’s decency, let’s bring it back. Let’s start the #DudesGreetingDudes movement! Say hi to each other!

— Elon James White (@elonjames) November 2, 2014

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These women don’t get it. Y’all just want to say hi. What’s wrong with hi?!?! So let’s just leave them out completely. #DudesGreetingDudes

— Elon James White (@elonjames) November 2, 2014

White’s #DudesGreetingDudes hashtag immediately filled up with jokes about guys “saying hi” to or complimenting other men using the same lines they regularly use on female passersby.

You see a dude in a nice suit, just roll up on him like “Damn. You wearing that suit. Hmm Hmm!” #DudesGreetingDudes

— Elon James White (@elonjames) November 2, 2014

You see a dude looking all hard & shit. Roll up on him like “Aye yo, smile, son. Damn.” BRING SUNSHINE TO HIS DAY. #dudesgreetingdudes

— Elon James White (@elonjames) November 2, 2014

#DudesGreetingDudes: Because it’s not about sex or nothing. We just wanna say hi.

— Elon James White (@elonjames) November 2, 2014

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“Psst, psst… Hey bald head–not too many dudes can rock that ‘natural’ look” #dudesgreetingdudes

— Em. (@jiveturkish) November 2, 2014

(sees dude reading a book) “Whatcha reading bro? You like books? I love smart dudes. Get that brain on, bud. Aw yeah.” #dudesgreetingdudes

— Kat Letwin (@letwinka) November 2, 2014

Hey bruh! You like football? Wanna watch football? You look like you played football! Where’d you play? What position? #DudesGreetingDudes

— Ready Bridgewater (@TheCoolTeacher_) November 2, 2014

I’m happy that we all agree that #DudesGreetingDudes is the solution. Women may feel jealous when we leave them out of this but WHATEVES.

— Elon James White (@elonjames) November 2, 2014

I’m having so much fun with #DudesGreetingDudes. Why weren’t we men doing this before? Wasting all this time with unappreciative women.

— Jaison Oliver (@oJaison) November 2, 2014

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Some Twitter users argued that #DudesGreetingDudes played off of straight men’s internalized homophobia, because some of them would only feel uncomfortable about this kind of compliment if it reflected a sexual advance by another man. But @elonjames disagreed, saying that the hashtag was simply pointing out the hypocrisy of claiming that “polite” street harassment had nothing to do with sex.

The #DudesGreetingDudes h’tag wasn’t based on homophobia, but hypocrisy. Using “greeting’ as a shield when you wouldnt greet dudes the same.

— Elon James White (@elonjames) November 2, 2014

The premise is that the “Greetings” are not greetings but in fact attempts at engaging women to go beyond a simple “hello.” @AmandaMichelle

— Elon James White (@elonjames) November 2, 2014

Looking at just the humor–it’s much funnier that it’s 2 cis-het dudes talking. It shows the hypocrisy EVEN MORE because IT WOULDNT HAPPEN.

— Elon James White (@elonjames) November 2, 2014

Whether or not you think the #DudesGreetingDudes hashtag relies on internalized homophobia to make its point, it’s still very effective. It’s practically impossible to imagine men “greeting” each other the way they greet the woman in the Hollaback video, and this proves just how uncomfortable a suggestive and unwanted compliment can be.

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Photo via Ingorr/Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0)

 

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*First Published: Nov 3, 2014, 12:30 pm CST